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INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

  • 31 Mar

15 Years of Retail Assist – Interview with Alan Morris

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This year we are celebrating our 15th Birthday. As such we have been speaking to some of the Retail Assist team members who have been with us from the very beginning. In our first post we will be asking our Executive Chairman, Alan Morris, about some of his favourite Retail Assist memories and about the changes he has seen over the 15 years.

Alan Morris is Retail Assist’s Executive Chairman and one of its founders.  He is a very skilled businessman, business systems practitioner and visionary. Alan began his career in the mid 1980’s and has managed major projects throughout the entire supply chain. In the mid-1990’s Alan observed a gap between the retailer and the IT solution provider, to bridge this, he set up retail IT services company, which later evolved into what is now Retail Assist.

Alan, what does your role involve, and how has this changed over the last 15 years?

  • That is a good question. I guess the proper answer is “to ensure that the objectives of the shareholders are achieved”.  In the early days I was far more hands on than I am today in terms of actual projects and services delivery. Although it is a long standing joke that I have never answered a Help Desk call I feel that I must have done at some point in the past; I have done almost everything else!

What would you say the most significant change has been in retail over the last 15 years?

  • The ability to sell product across multiple channels, in multiple countries over multiple time zones. Technology 15 years ago played a supporting role (in that it made existing process run better). Now technology provides opportunity for competitive advantage at the sharp end of retail; the web and mobile are two examples.

What changes have you seen at Retail Assist over the last 15 years?

  • It is said that change is the only constant in life and this is certainly the case at RA. We are obviously bigger than 1999 in terms of more people, more clients, we are stronger in terms of more experience and we have a both software and managed solutions offerings. I like to think that our core values over the years have not changed and I am sure that they won’t. It is these that underpin the way we do everything.

What is your favourite aspect of working at Retail Assist?

  • The people – it sounds glib and trite but it is true for me.

Most memorable/funniest Retail Assist experience?

  • Most memorable was the weekend we moved into Compass Point in Bingham, Nottinghamshire. The team work that went into that exercise was fantastic and the pride that everyone involved showed for a “job well done” was great to see and experience. The funniest is equally difficult because like the memories there has been a lot of fun too, but if I was to be drawn on one thing then I’d say it was the night that Dan Smith, Steve Eckersley and myself spent an evening and all night building a replacement till for a store in Ireland (well, Steve was doing the work and Dan and I were just nagging him). At 3am Dan fell asleep momentarily on the sofa in my office. He woke with a start about 20 minutes later and seemed to think that I was someone called Brian! Very odd, I have no idea why or what goes on in his personal world. Perhaps you had to be there, but it was very funny.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog and are interested in reading about other members of our team then keep an eye on our blog page: http://www.retail-assist.co.uk and also our twitter account: @RetailAssist #15YearsofRA for updates and latest blogs.

For more information about Retail Assist then please contact us on info@retail-assist.co.uk or 0115 853 3910.

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